For many of us, the freelance life has its ups and downs, financially speaking. Especially when you're starting out, it can feel like the "feast or famine phenomenon" - you're either up to your ears with work, or the phone hasn't rung in weeks.
That's one reason why managing our finances in a smart way is so important for freelancers, or anyone, really. Obviously, making more money will help you grow a savings cushion for the leaner times. But spending less helps too. So here are 15 money-saving hacks for the budget-conscious freelancer.
1. Skip Barnes & Noble and treat yo self to a library card instead.
It's free, and many libraries have memberships for ebooks and online movie/TV streaming.
2. Cut that cable!
Many of us are already cutting our cable subscriptions in favor of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others. Getting rid of just one of your entertainment sources will save money, and may actually make you more productive.
3. 52 weeks of saving.
Grab a mason jar, coffee can, or whatever, and for every week of the year, save a set dollar amount for whatever week it is. I.e., in week 1, save $1. In week 2, save $2, and so on. (You could also do it backwards, so it gets easier the further into the year.) By the end of the year you'll have saved $1,378. I do this and I use the moolah for Christmas shopping and holiday travel. Speaking of which...
4. 365 shopping days left till Christmas!
When's the best time to go Christmas shopping? Any time! Throughout the year I keep an eye out for Christmas and birthday gifts for loved ones. It helps me find the perfect things without the rush of Christmas, and potentially save some money by buying a gift when it's on sale, rather than when it's marked up for the holidays. (Don't need rush shipping either.)
5. Book flights early and save.
If you know you'll be traveling, try to make your plans and book your flights early, but not too early. A recent study says to book international flights at least 2 months in advance, and domestic flights around 54 days in advance, to get the best deals.
6. Sign up for grocery store fuel point programs.
Since you'll spend money on groceries anyway, take advantage of your favorite store's gas point programs. Kroger, for example, rewards shoppers with 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 spent in the store, plus double or quadruple points during special promotions.
7. Use credit card point programs.
Most credit cards have a points or cash-back program. Learn what your credit card company offers, and how you can use it strategically to earn extra money. Some cards give double points on certain things like groceries, so it's advantageous to use plastic there instead of cash.
8. Save on shipping with Amazon Prime.
This won't be advantageous for everyone, but if you order from Amazon more than a few times per year, it will probably save you money in the long run to get Amazon Prime. For $99 a year (if you pay up front), it gets you free 2-day shipping on many items, plus Amazon video streaming.
9. Limit meals and coffee out.
You can save a ton of money by cooking meals at home and making your own coffee. Skipping just one Starbucks run a week, and opting for one more home-cooked lunch a week can save you upwards of $676 a year.
10. If you're a shopaholic, find a different hobby.
I used to love killing time at the mall. I still do, but I find when I idly go to the mall or a favorite department store, I wind up buying something I don't need. The solution? Don't go!
11. Hate clipping coupons? Use digital coupons instead!
I don't go to the grocery store without scrolling the Kroger app for coupons. I shop for sales too, and routinely save 10-20% on my grocery bill.
12. Sign up for Groupon.
While Groupon's great deals can actually tempt you into spending money on things
you don't need, it can also help you save a lot. It's worth checking the site before you go out for sushi or a manicure. Speaking of which...
13. Ladies, release your inner beautician.
Even if you feel like a beauty school drop-out, you can take care of things like cutting bangs, trimming layers, or a DIY mani-pedi, right at home, and save the expense of a salon visit for major style changes or special occasions. If you're shy with the scissors, visit YouTube for some tutorials.
14. Pay insurance in a lump sum.
Check with your insurance company to see if you can save a little money by paying your premiums on a biannual or quarterly basis, instead of monthly.
15. Use tools to streamline your business, because time = money.
There are a host of organizational tools and apps that you can get for free that will help you manage your time and your business more effectively. Trello and Todoist are some of my favorite task management tools, and they're free.
16. Use credit cards wisely.
Try not to carry over a balance from month to month, if you can avoid it. Whatever you purchase winds up costing more in the long run when you have to pay interest on the bill. To help get credit cards under control, go on a spending freeze for a set period, and purchase only the essentials, and nothing else.
17. Take an "interest" in your finances.
Make sure you are saving for your future and your retirement. Consider putting some of your money into smart investments that will earn interest as the years go by. Consult with a professional first!
If you found these tips helpful, do your freelancer friends a favor and share this article on Facebook :)